worldwide in every aspect of life and are growing in “shock and awe.” No nation
of the world is exempt and troubles shall continue to grow and grow until all mankind
is hopelessly in extremity. At this time the Messiah will take a hand. “For he must reign, till he hath put all
enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. —1 Cor 15:25-26
“For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” —Psa 30:5
WORLD EVENTS — Natural disasters
On January 12, 2010 at 4:53 pm local time, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake, the country’s most severe earthquake in over 200 years, struck Haiti. The epicenter of the quake was just outside the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince. On February 10, the Haitian government gave a confirmed death toll of 230,000. Widespread damage resulted from the quake. The capital city was devastated. “Even in good times Haiti is an economic wreck, balancing precariously on the razor’s edge of calamity,” said one Journalist. As of September 2010, there were over one million refugees living in tents. By all economic measures, Haiti is an impoverished country, one of the world’s poorest and least developed. Haiti now ranks 149th of 182 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index (2006). About 80% of the population was estimated to be living in poverty in 2003. Most Haitians live on $2 or less per day. Haiti has 50% illiteracy, and over 80% of college graduates from Haiti have immigrated, mostly to the United States. Cité Soleil considered as one of the worst slums in the Americas; most of its 500,000 residents live in extreme poverty. Poverty has forced at least 225,000 Haitian children to work as restavecs (unpaid household servants); the United Nations considers this a modern-day form of slavery.
About 66% of all Haitians work in agriculture, which consists mainly of small-scale subsistence farming, but this activity makes up only 30% of the GDP. The country has experienced little formal job-creation over the past decade, although the informal economy is growing. Mangoes and coffee are two of Haiti's most important exports.
Mining and economic geology: Natural resources of Haiti include bauxite, copper, calcium carbonate.
Cholera Reported in Haiti
To add insult to injury, a cholera outbreak in rural areas of Haiti has killed more than 150 people, and hospitals are overwhelmed with thousands of sick, the World Health Organization said on October 15th, increasing long-held fears of an epidemic that could spread to the encampments of the hundreds of thousands of Haitians displaced by the January earthquake.
Relief agencies had long feared a major outbreak of diarrheal diseases, particularly among people living in crowded, unsanitary tent cities and, as in the case in Artibonite, drinking from rivers.
However, the appearance of cholera – which dehydrates and kills victims more rapidly than other diarrheas – was a surprise. Haiti and the rest of the Caribbean have not seen the vibrio cholerae bacteria, which lives in human intestines, for at least 50 years.
Television images showed hospital corridors, hallways and even parking lots there filled with victims lying down, getting intravenous fluids as crowds of screaming relatives were kept outside. (Excerpted from New York Times column by Donald G. McNeil, Jr.)
2010 Pakistan Floods
Began in July 2010 following heavy monsoon rains in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan regions of Pakistan. Present estimates indicate that over two thousand people have died and over a million homes destroyed since the flooding began. The United Nations estimates that more than 21 million people are injured or homeless as a result of the flooding, exceeding the combined total of individuals affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake. At one point, approximately one-fifth of Pakistan’s total land area was underwater due to the flooding.
The disaster has inflicted billions of dollars of damage to homes, infrastructure and the vital agricultural sector and stirred anger against the US-backed government, which has struggled to cope.
A month after the disaster began; the United Nations warned that tens of thousands of children risked death from malnutrition.
This is Pakistan’s worst natural disaster in terms of the amount of damage, estimated to date at about $9,500 billion.
After 400 years, the volcano Mount Sinabung erupted. Approximately 29,000 people evacuated from their homes around the mountains as a precautionary measure to prevent widespread panic.
“The situation is not life threatening, although the ash and smoke can cause illnesses,” said Surono, the head of the Indonesian Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Agency.
“Thousands of people were treated for smoke inhalation and other health problems related to the volcano. The Indonesian Red Cross and the Health Ministry sent doctors and medicines to the region. The National Disaster Management Agency has provided thousands of facemasks and food to assist the evacuees.”
Officials said they had not been monitoring the mountain because it had been inactive for so long.
Indonesia sits along the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” one of the most geologically active regions in the world. The country frequently experiences earthquakes – two in 2009 caused hundreds of deaths. It also has the most active volcanoes in the world, with more than 70. (Excerpts from News.Com.)
Death Rate Doubles in Moscow
Heat wave blamed for 700 daily fatalities in Moscow. According to Moscow health authorities the number of deaths per day in the Russian capital had nearly doubled as the city and most of central Russia entered the seventh week of a heat wave.
The high temperatures, hovering around 100 degrees, destroyed 30 percent of the nation’s grain crops and triggered widespread peat bog and forest fires that have killed more than 50 people.
Andrei Seltsovsky, chief of Moscow’s health department, said the city’s morgues filled almost to their capacity, with 1,300 of the 1,500 slots occupied. He suggested that residents deviate from a Russian Orthodox tradition of holding burials on the third day after death, burying loved ones on the first or second day instead.
Fires Threaten Nuclear Arms Site
“Russian troops dug a 5-mile-long canal to keep fires caused by a record heat wave from a nuclear arms site, local media said Saturday, as air pollution from the crisis rose to more than six times above normal.
“Forest and peat fires have killed at least 52 people, made more than 4,000 homeless, diverted many flights and forced Muscovites to wear surgical masks to filter out foul air.” (The Orlando Sentinel, August 8, 2010)
Man or Nature? China Debates
“Beijing: The images are heartrending, farmers kneeling over the cracked earth that looks to be straight out of a post-apocalyptic movie, the dust swirling in the wind.
“But what underlies China’s worst drought in nearly a century is a matter of great debate. Is it Mother Nature or human failure? Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam are claiming that China’s river dams and increased smoke and smog from the expanded Chinese industrial activity
“Beyond the official explanation of ‘abnormal weather,’ Chinese environmentalists are pointing to deforestation, pollution, dams, overbuilding and other man-made factors. Scientists are searching for clues about why rain has not come in some parts of the country.
“The Chinese army and paramilitary have been deployed in some hard-hit areas to deliver water, while residents of some mountainous villages inaccessible by motor vehicle have had to hike hours downhill and climb up again lugging plastic jugs of water in bamboo backpacks.
“An unusually long dry season – which has stretched from September. 2009 to the present ─ is at least part of the problem, but the underlying reasons are less clear. Some Chinese scientists believe that abnormally cold, wet weather in the north of the country is linked to the drought in the southwest.
“‘The Earth is reacting to climate change,’ said Kuang Yaoqiu, a professor with the Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, who predicted the drought last year; ‘China’s mainstream meteorologists haven’t accepted these theories. It will take time.’
“The drought-related losses are both economic and highly personal. For all the tea in China, this year’s crop is expected to be a fraction of what it was in previous years.
“‘There are huge cracks in the ground. The leaves on the trees are so dry they looked like they were set on fire,’ said Wu Liuzhi, manager of a tea processing plant in Guangxi province.
“‘At home, it is just as miserable. ‘People cannot brush their teeth every day. If there is a little water you want to wash your face,’ Wu said.
“According to government statistics, the drought has: • left parched more than 16 million acres of farmland in more than four provinces • threatened the livelihood of more than 50 million farmers • left up to 20 million people without drinking water.” (By Barbara Demick, Tribune Newspapers, May 2, 2010)
Comment: We are seeing many natural disasters as predicted in Matt. 24:7: “For Nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places.” Then in Matt. 14:21 we have this: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” We understand that the Time of Trouble is necessary for God to Establish His Kingdom on earth.
Economist predicted the economy will get better in 2011. We do not see that with unemployment around 9.5 to 10 percent. The people sent a message to Congress that they do not like what is going on. Democrats worked more on the Health Plan than the economy.
2011 will be a so-so year. There will not be a cost of living increase for Social Security benefits and the wage base will stay the same as in 2009 and 2010.
The stock market should be good in 2011. Companies have a lot of cash waiting to see what the new laws will be. Unemployment will be high. The new Health Insurance is still law. The law that goes in effect in 2014 requires people to get health insurance by 2014 or pay a fine. It is predicted that issue will end up in the Supreme Court.
We must continue to “watch and pray” (Mark 13:33) in this Time of Trouble so that we will not be caught “unaware.” (Luke 21:34)
“SPREADING THE GLO: Can digital Bible win young believers over? For a generation growing up with digital media, the written word printed on paper has little appeal even if it’s the word of God.
“It’s for them that an Orlando company came up with the multimedia digital Glo Bible. ‘You have entire generations of people that don’t engage paper very well,’ said Nelson Saba, founder of Immersion Digital. ‘If you look at Bible literacy among younger generations, it’s dismal. This is designed to be a digital alternative to the paper Bible.’
“A Gallup poll in 2000 found that about a quarter of young people ages 18 to 29 read the Bible weekly ─ about half the rate of those 65 or older. Part of that, Saba contends is the younger generation’s aversion to the printed word. ‘There is nothing wrong with paper. I have lots of paper Bibles, but it’s just not the media they engage,’ Saba said.
“‘The Glo, released in October, recently won the Bible of the Year award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. It’s the first digital Bible to receive the distinction in the 32 years of the awards. The company is working on an application that will allow Glo to go mobile. ‘The biggest advantage of Glo is you can access the Bible through whatever device you have in your hands,’ Saba said.
“Glo will be going mobile; Glo is for personal computers and laptops, but the intent from its inception was that it would be applicable to mobile devices, Saba said.
“The Glo has 7,000 articles, 2,000 high-definition images and more than 500 virtual tours. ‘I think the appeal is, in this Internet society, people need to see things visually,’ said Skip Brown, customer-service representative for Long’s Christian Book and Outlet store in Altamonte Springs. ‘You can get a feeling for what it was like in Christ’s time, what Jerusalem looked like, what the streets looked like.’
“‘We need to take the Bible to where these generations are and try to communicate in a way they find fascinating,’ Saba said. ‘The idea was to explore what interactive digital media can do to communicate the Bible in a very new and powerful way.’” (Excerpts from Jeff Kunerth, Orlando Sentinel, May 22, 2010)
“RICE HAS GOOD REASONS TO QUIT CHRISTIANITY: ‘Today, I quit being a Christian.’ With those words last week on Facebook, Anne Rice delivered a wake-up call for organized religion. The question is whether it will be recognized as such.
“‘I remain committed to Christ as always,’ she wrote, ‘but not to being ‘Christian’ or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For 10 years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.’
“You will recall that the author, famed for her vampire novels, made a much-publicized return to the Catholicism of her youth after years of calling herself an atheist. Now, years later, she says she hasn’t lost her faith, but she’s had it up to here with organized religion. ‘In the name of Christ,’ she wrote, ‘I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life.’
“lf that was not nearly enough for atheist observers, one of whom berated her online for refusing to completely give up her ‘superstitious delusions,’ it was surely plenty for people of faith.
“But Rice is hardly the only one who feels as she does. According to a 2008 study by Trinity College, religiosity is trending down sharply in this country. The American Religious Identification Survey, which polled more than 54,000 American adults, found that the percentage who call themselves Christian has fallen by 10 since 1990 (from 86.2 percent to 76 percent) while the percentage of those who claim no religious affiliation has almost doubled (from 8.2 percent to 15 percent) in the same span.
“Small wonder atheist manifestos are doing brisk business at bookstores and Bill Maher’s skeptical Religulous finds an appreciative audience in theaters.
“Organized religion, Christianity in particular, is on the decline, and it has no one to blame but itself: It traded moral authority for political power. To put that another way: The Christian Bible contains numerous exhortations to serve those who are wretched and poor, to anger slowly and forgive promptly, to walk through this life in humility and faith.
“The word ‘Republican’ does not appear in the book. Not once. Yet somehow in the past 30 years, people of faith were hustled and hoodwinked into regarding the GOP platform as a lost gospel. Somehow, low taxes for the wealthy and deregulation of industry became the very message of Christ.
“Somehow, hostility to science, gays, Muslims and immigrants became the very meaning of faith. And somehow Christianity became ─ or at least, came to seem ─ a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party.
“Consider that, after the election of 2004, a church in North Carolina made news for kicking out nine congregants because they committed the un-Christian act of... voting for Democrat John Kerry. Who can blame people for saying, ‘If that’s faith, count me out!’
“Has atheism ever had a better salesman than Jerry Falwell, blaming the Sept. 11 attacks on the ACLU or Pat Robertson laying Haiti’s earthquake off on an ancient curse? But what of those who are not atheists? What of those who feel the blessed assurance that there is more to this existence than what we can see or empirically prove?
“What of those who seek a magnificent faith that commits and compels, and find churches offering only a shriveled faith that marginalizes and demeans? Its response to those people, those ‘seekers,’ will determine the future of organized religion. And it might behoove keepers of the faith to keep in mind the distinction Anne Rice drew in her farewell: Christ didn’t fail-her, she said. Christianity did.” (By Leonard Pitts, Tribune Media Services, August 6, 2010)
Comment: Because of Satan’s deceptions the moral perception is obscured, the conscience is distorted, and policy runs nearly the whole ecclesiastical machinery of the nominal churches. Thus a popularized religion ─ which costs nothing and is worth nothing ─ is readily accepted, while the old religion of the cross is utterly discarded. The consequence is that there is religion enough, and Churchianity enough, but a great famine for real Christianity.
“STUDY: AMERICANS PICK FROM RELIGIOUS BUFFET: Many combine tradition, New Age belief, report says. When it comes to religion, many Americans like the mix-and-match, build-your own approach. “Large numbers attend services of traditions other than their own and blend Christianity with Eastern and New Age beliefs, a survey finds. The report Wednesday from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life also shows tremendous growth over the last three decade in the number of Americans who say they have had a religious or mystical experience. Though the U.S. is overwhelmingly Christian, significant minorities say they hold beliefs of the sort found at Buddhist temple or New Age bookstores. Twenty-four percent of those surveyed and 22 percent of Christians say they believe in reincarnation, the idea that people will be reborn in this world again and again,
“As for the significant numbers who visit more than one place of worship, it’s not just an occasional visit while on vacation or for special events such as weddings and funerals.
“One-third of Americans say they regularly or occasionally attend religious service at more than one place. One-quarter say they sometimes attend services of a faith different from their own.
“‘It is as much now the norm as it is the exception for Americans to blend multiple religious beliefs and practices,’ said Alan Cooperman, associate director for research at the Pew Forum.
“Among the report’s other findings: • About 16 percent of Americans believe in the ‘evil eye’ ─ that certain people can cast curses or spells. More than 1 in 10 white evangelicals who attend church weekly and 3 in 10 black Protestants believe in the phenomenon, which can be found in Islam, Judaism and traditional African beliefs. • Nearly half of Americans say they have had a religious or mystical experience, or a ‘moment of sudden religious insight or awakening,’ the survey found. That is more than double the result since a Gallup survey asked in 1962.
“D. Michael Lindsay, a Rice University sociologist with a specialty in religion, said the results what he calls the ‘playlist effect’ in contemporary American religious practice. ‘The ways we illustrate personalize our iPhones, we also personalize our religious lives,’ he said.
“The build-your-own-religion findings show that ‘culture and pop culture and the Internet are probably more powerful teachers than Sunday school teachers,’ said Scott Thumma, a sociologist at the Hartford Institute of Religion Research.
“The survey of more than 4,000 adults was conducted by phone in August; the total sample size has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
“Supernatural experiences and beliefs – Percentage who has: Been in touch with the dead, 29%; Had ghostly experience, 18%; Consulted psychic, 15%. Percentage who believe in: Spiritual energy in trees, etc., 26%; Astrology, 25%; Reincarnation, 24%; Yoga as spiritual practice, 23%; Evil eye (casting of curses), 16%.” (By Eric Gorski, AP, December 12, 2009)
“BELIEVE IT: ATHEISTS KNOW GOD: If you want to learn about God, you might want to talk to an atheist. A survey that measured Americans’ knowledge of religion found that atheists and agnostics knew more, on average, than followers of most major faiths.
“A majority of Protestants couldn’t identify Martin Luther as the driving force behind the Protestant Reformation, according to the survey, released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Four in 10 Catholics misunderstood the meaning of their church’s central ritual, incorrectly saying that the bread and wine used in Holy Communion are intended to merely symbolize the body and blood of Christ, not actually become them.
“Atheists and agnostics were more likely to answer the survey’s questions correctly. Jews and Mormons ranked just below them in the survey’s measurement of religious knowledge ─ so close as to be statistically tied.
“American atheists and agnostics tend to be people who grew up in a religious tradition and consciously gave it up, often after a great deal of reflection and study, said Alan Cooperman, associate director of the Pew Forum.
“Atheists and agnostics also tend to be relatively well-educated, the survey found, not surprisingly, that the most knowledgeable people were also the best-educated. But the survey also found that atheists and agnostics outperformed believers who had a similar level of education.” (By Mitchell Landsberg, Tribune Newspapers, September 28, 2010)
“CATHOLIC PRELATE: “JEWS EXPLOIT HOLOCAUST”: Retired polish Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek accuses the Jews of appropriating the Holocaust, which he says ignores the loss of many Poles, Gypsies, Italians and Catholics who were concentration camp victims. Interviewed recently on an Italian Catholic website, Pieronek alleged that, for Jews, the Shoah was ‘used as a propaganda weapon and to obtain advantages that are often unjustified.’
“Calling the Holocaust ‘such a Jewish invention,’ the Bishop claims that the Jews have exhibited a ‘kind of arrogance’ he finds intolerable. The 75-year old Pieronek, who reportedly served as secretary-general of Poland’s Bishops Conference from 1993 to 1998, also characterized anti-Semitism in Poland as a ‘joke.’” (World Jewry, April 2010)
“VATICAN: Legionaries’ founder Maciel led immoral life. Pope to order ‘purification’ of order whose leader fathered child, abused boys. MEXICO CITY─ The Vatican Saturday ordered the overhaul of one of the Catholic Church’s largest and most influential organizations after an investigation into decades of sexual abuse by the group’s founder and systematic efforts to cover it up.
“Mexican-born Father Marcial Maciel engaged in ‘very serious and objectively immoral behavior,’ the Vatican said ─ including fathering at least one child and sexually molesting boys and seminarians. The abuse dates to the 1950s and continued into the 1990s, years in which Maciel led a double life, protected by silence and obedience and sidelining his accusers.
“Maciel, who died in 2008 at the age of 87, founded the ultraconservative Legionaries of Christ order in Mexico in 1941. In this country, the group controls a network of schools and universities that preach traditional Catholic values.
“The Vatican said Saturday that Pope Benedict XVI will appoint a special envoy and a commission to oversee the ‘purification’ of the order and the ‘redefinition’ of its secretive, militaristic culture.
“Saturday’s announcement follows an investigation in which a team of bishops fanned out across the globe on Benedict’s command. They reported to the Holy See on Friday and Saturday, with Benedict sitting in on one of the briefings.
“How the Vatican handled the Legion case has been watched closely as sexual abuse scandals erupt across Europe and other parts of the world. Benedict and other church leaders have been accused of failing to act with enough vigor to stop abuse and punish offending clergy.
“Allegations had dogged Maciel for decades. But he was able to deflect them, branding his accusers as slandering liars and receiving unflagging support from the church hierarchy.
“Maciel ‘skillfully managed to build up an alibi to gain the trust, confidence an surrounding silence, and strengthen his role as charismatic founder,’ the Vatican said. Living ‘a life devoid of scruples an of genuine religious feeling,’ the statement continued, Maciel ‘created around himself a defense mechanism that made him untouchable for a long time.’
“Benedict’s decision is far short of disbanding the organization, as some critics had demanded.
“A statement on the Legionaries’ Website Saturday said they ‘thank the Holy Father and embrace his provisions with faith and obedience.’” (By Tracy Wilkinson, Tribune Newspapers, May 2, 2010)
“WHY DOES SAVING A LIFE MERIT EXCOMMUNICATION? After all, priests merely get suspended or defrocked for sexually abusing children. We finally have a case where the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy is responding forcefully and speedily to allegations of wrongdoing.
“But the target isn't a pedophile priest. Rather, it’s a nun who helped save a woman’s, life. Doctors describe her as saintly. The excommunication of Sister Margaret McBride in Phoenix underscores all that to me feels morally obtuse about the church hierarchy. I hope that a public outcry can rectify this travesty.
“McBride was a senior administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix. A 27-year-old mother of four arrived late last year, in her third month of pregnancy. According to local news reports and accounts from the hospital and some of its staff members, the mother suffered from a serious complication called pulmonary hypertension. That created a high probability that the strain of continuing pregnancy would kill her.
“‘In this tragic case, the treatment necessary to save the mother’s life required the termination of an ll-week pregnancy,’ the hospital said in a statement. ‘This decision was made after consultation with the patient, her family, her physicians, and in consultation with the Ethics Committee.’
“McBride was a member of that committee. She declined to discuss the episode with me, but the bishop of Phoenix, Thomas Olmsted, ruled that McBride was ‘automatically excommunicated’ because she assented to an abortion. ‘The mother’s life cannot be preferred over the child’s,’ the bishop’s communication office elaborated in a statement.
“Let us just note that the Roman Catholic hierarchy suspended priests who abused children and in some cases defrocked them but did not normally excommunicate them, so they remained able to take the sacrament.
“McBride has left her post as vice president. The hospital told me that she had resigned ‘at the bishop’s request’ but is still working elsewhere at the hospital.
“I heard about McBride from an acquaintance at the hospital. After what happened to McBride, he doesn’t dare be named, but he sent an e-mail to friends lamenting the excommunication of ‘a saintly nun’: ‘She is a kind, soft-spoken, humble, caring, spiritual woman whose spot in Heaven was reserved years ago,’ he wrote. ‘The idea that she could be excommunicated after decades of service to the Church and humanity literally makes me nauseated.
“A statement from the bishop’s office did not dispute that the mother’s life was in danger ─ although it did note that no doctor’s prediction is 100 percent certain. The episode reinforces perceptions of church leaders as rigid, dogmatic, out of touch ─ and very suspicious of independent-minded American nuns.
“McBride made a difficult judgment in an emergency, saved a life and then was punished and humiliated by a bishop who spent 16 years in Rome and devoted far less time to serving the downtrodden than McBride.
“‘Everyone I know considers Sister Margaret to be the moral conscience of the hospital,’ Dr. John Garvie, chief of gastroenterology at St. Joseph’s Hospital, wrote to the editor to The Arizona Republic. ‘She works tirelessly and selflessly as the living example and champion of compassionate, appropriate care for the sick and dying.’
“Garvie later told me in an e-mail message that ‘saintly’ was the right word for McBride and added: ‘Sister was the ‘living embodiment of God’ in our building. She always made sure we understood that we’re here to help the less fortunate. We really have no one to take her place.’
“When hierarchies of mostly aging men pounce on and excommunicate a revered nun who was merely trying to save a mother’s life, the church seems to me almost as out of touch as it was in the cruel and debauched days of the Borgias in the Renaissance.” (By Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, June 1, 2010)
“REPORT: BRITAIN, CHURCH, HID PRIEST’S ROLE IN BOMBS: LONDON ─ The British government and the Roman Catholic Church conspired to cover up the suspected involvement of a priest in a triple bombing in Northern Ireland in 1972 that killed nine people, a new investigation into the attack found Tuesday. “Despite strong evidence that the priest, James Chesney, had a hand in the explosions that ripped through the village of Claudy in July 1972, police decided not to go after the priest but instead asked officials in London to work with church leaders in removing him from the area. Chesney moved across the border and was later assigned to a parish in Ireland. “No one was ever charged in connection with the attack near Londonderry, one of the most notorious incidents of terrorist violence during Northern Ireland’s ‘Troubles.’ Chesney died 30 years ago. In 2002, Northern Ireland’s police ombudsman agreed to reopen an investigation, whose results were released Tuesday.” (Orlando Sentinel, August 8, 2010)
“VATICAN REJECTS RESIGNATIONS: Irish bishops had offered to quit after abuse report. BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND ─ Pope Benedict XVI has rejected the resignations of two Irish bishops who came under heavy pressure to step down in the wake of a damning report on clerical sex abuse in Dublin, Irish media reports said Wednesday.
“Auxiliary Bishops Raymond Field and Eamonn Walsh tendered their resignations in December after a government backed investigation found evidence of widespread cover-ups involving cases of priestly abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese from the 1970s through the 1990s. The report caused uproar in Ireland and deepened public disillusion with the once-dominant Roman Catholic Church.
“But in a letter to fellow clerics, according to Irish news media, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin informed them that the Vatican had decided not to accept the two bishops’ offers to step down. Instead, the pair would be ‘assigned revised responsibilities within the diocese,’ the letter said, without specifying what those new duties would be.
“The Vatican’s decision was swiftly denounced by victims’ groups. ‘By this move, the pope has done irreparable damage to the already deeply damaged image of a selfish church hierarchy,’ Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said in a statement.
“The report released in November; which drew on thousands of previously secret church documents, concluded that bishops in Dublin failed to inform the police about dozens of priests suspected of pedophilia and that the church systematically hushed up the alleged abuse of hundreds of children.
“Field and Walsh, who were bishops during the period covered by the investigation, initially resisted calls to step aside but eventually relented, saying they were sorry for their actions and expressing hope that their resignations would bring ‘peace and reconciliation’ to victims.” (By Henry Chu, Tribune Newspapers, August 12, 2010)
“IRISH CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS LOST ITS CREDIBILITY, ANGLICAN SAYS: LONDON: The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has lost all credibility because of its mishandling of abuse by priests, the leader of the Anglican church said in remarks released Saturday. A leading Catholic archbishop said he was ‘stunned’ by the comments.
“The remarks marked the first time Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has spoken publicly on the crisis engulfing the Catholic Church. The comments come ahead of a visit to England and Scotland by Pope Benedict XVI later this year.
“‘I was speaking to an Irish friend recently who was saying that it’s quite difficult in some parts of Ireland to go down the street wearing a clerical collar now,’ Williams told the BBC. ‘And an institution so deeply bound into the life of a society, suddenly becoming, suddenly losing all credibility ─ that’s not just a problem for the church, it is a problem for everybody in Ireland, I think.’
“Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said he had ‘rarely felt personally so discouraged’ as when he heard Williams’ comments. ‘I have been more than forthright in addressing the failures of the Catholic Church in Ireland. I still shudder when I think of the harm that was caused to abused children. I recognize that their church failed them,’ a statement, posted on the archdiocese’s Website, said. ‘Those working for renewal in the Catholic Church in Ireland did not need this comment on this Easter weekend and do not deserve it.’ Martin later said Williams had called him to express regret for the ‘difficulties which may have been created’ by the interview. “Williams’ criticisms are likely to strain already testy relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion ─ which estimate 1.1 billion and 80 million adherents respectively. Although the pope and the archbishop of Canterbury have stressed the importance of healing the Reformation-era rift that split the churches in the 16th century, relations hit a low point last year when the Vatican invited conservative Anglicans to join the Catholic Church.” (By Raphael G. Satter, AP, April 4, 1010)
SOUTHERN BAPTISTS SHIFT GEARS: “Southern Baptists on Tuesday approved shifting resources away from their strongholds in the South to concentrate on parts of the U.S. and the world where they can gain more members. The 10,000 Baptists attending the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando voted to divert more money and manpower overseas and to Northern states. ‘What it will do is help us to be more focused on meeting the needs around the world rather than spending it on ourselves,’ said the Rev. David Uth, pastor of First Baptist Church of Orlando. The decision to restructure was not without debate and division. Retiring President Morris H. Chapman urged rejection of the recommendations, which he said would drastically change the way churches give to the boards, missions and agencies within the Southern Baptist Convention. Chapman said too much emphasis was placed on money and organization and not enough on spiritual renewal. ‘The recommendations are about moving the chairs on the deck of the Titanic as the ship goes down into an icy, watery grave,’ Chapman said. Supporters of recommendations made by the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force said that changes were needed to bolster membership and baptisms. Membership has leveled off at about 16 million members since 2000, and the number of baptisms in 2009 was about the same as in 1989. One recommendation, intended to expand the denomination’s reach beyond the South, narrows the focus of the North American Mission Board to creating Southern Baptist churches in cities where none now exist, such as Seattle, Chicago and Boston. Another recommendation broadens the reach of the International Mission Board, which has been restricted to evangelism in foreign countries. The international missionaries can now proselytize to ethnic groups and nationalities within the United States, such as foreign born Hispanics and Haitians in Florida. The increased emphasis on the International Mission Board, supporters contended, returns the denomination to its origins in 1845, when foreign missionary work was a primary goal of Southern Baptists. It also allows Southern Baptists to respond faster and more efficiently to disasters worldwide as a way of introducing their religion to non-Christians, Uth said. ‘It helps us to take the hope of the gospel to ends of the earth, literally.’” (By Jeff Kunerth, Orlando Sentinel, June 16, 2010)
“FIVE ANGLICAN BISHOPS CONVERT: LONDON – Five Church of England Bishops opposed to women being ordained as bishops will take up an offer by Pope Benedict XVI and convert to Roman Catholicism. The bishops will enter full communion with Rome through an ordinariate, a body proposed by the pope last year to let traditionalists convert while keeping some Anglican traditions, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales announced. The ordinariate will let married clerics become Catholic priests, in an exception to the Vatican's celibacy rule, but not bishops. Married Anglican bishops who convert may be granted a special status almost equivalent to their former rank.” (By news services, November 9, 1010)
“Only 40 percent of U.S. Presbyterians believe Jesus is the only way to heaven, with only 35 percent of the denomination’s pastors believing this. More than half agreed that ‘all the world’s religions are equally good ways of helping a person find ultimate truth.’” (Religion Today, January 18, 2010)
Our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the many beautiful Christmas cards received expressing love and prayers. Be assured that our warm Christian love and prayers are ever with you. We wish for all our readers that they will grow in Grace and Knowledge of the Lord for a blessed New Year as "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and unto the perfect day," (Proverbs. 4:18)
ANNOUNCEMENT: The date of our Memorial is April 15, 2011, after six p.m.